WIDENGREN, Geo

WIDENGREN, Geo. Stockholm 24.4.1907 — Stockholm 28.1.1996. Swedish Scholar of Comparative Religion and of Iranian and Semitic Philology. Professor in Uppsala. Son of Hugo Jakobsson, a soldier and Anna née Widengren, grew up in Stockholm. Matriculated in 1925, in 1925-27 in military service. Studies in 1928-36 at Stockholm and Uppsala under Nyberg and Tor Andrae, also at Stockholm and Copenhagen. Lic.phil. 1934 Stockholm. Ph.D. and PD 1936 Uppsala. In 1937-40 acting Professor of History and Psychology of Religion at Uppsala, from 1940 ord. Professor of the same, ibid. Retired in 1973. Dean of the Theological Faculty in 1944-45, 1950-51, and 1964-71. Honorary doctorate of Amsterdam and Strasbourg (1961), Cardiff (1965), Rostock (1969), and Uppsala (1973). Voluntary in the Finnish Winter War. Married in 1944 with Aina Björkman.

A famous specialist of Manichaeism, a philologist and a well known scholar of Iranian religion, who knew rather little of India, but was competent in classics and Semitics and often studied the contacts between Iranian and Semitic peoples. He knew many Iranian and Semitic languages, Latin, Greek and Armenian. As a Dumézilian he was much interested in myth and ritual, especially in the royal ideology (sacral kingship). Among his other interests were feodalism in ancient Iran and history of dress. He emphasized the Iranian elements in Judaism, Gnosticism and Christianity. He was often brilliant in his ideas, but when found once, unwilling to change them. As an old military man he remained enthusiastic horseman until high age.

Publications: diss. The Accadian and Hebrew Psalms of Lamentation as Religious Documents. Stockholm 1936.

Hochgottglaube im alten Iran. Eine religionsphänomenologische Untersuchung. 469 p. Uppsala Univ. Årsbok 1938:6.

The Great Vohu Manah and the Apostle of God. Studies in Iranian and Manichaean Religion. Uppsala Univ. Årsb. 1945:5.

Mesopotamian Elements in Manichaeism. Uppsala 1946; The King and the Tree of Life. Uppsala 1951; Kungar, profeter och harlekiner. Religionshistoriska uppsatser. Stockholm 1961.

– “Harlekintracht und Mönchkutte, Clownhut und Derwischmütze”, Or. Suec. 2, 1953, 41-111; “Some Remarks on riding Costume and Articles of Dress among Iranian Peoples in Antiquity”, Arctica 40, 1956, 228-276.

– “Stand und Aufgaben der iranischen Religionsgeschichte”, Numen 1, 1954, 16-83 & 2, 1955, 46-134.

– “Recherches sur le féodalisme iranien”, Or.Suec. 5, 1957, 70-182; Feudalismus im alten Iran. 175 p. Köln 1969.

Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung in parthischer Zeit. 162 p. Köln 1960.

ed. Iranische Geisteswelt: von den Anfängen bis zum Islam. Baden-Baden 1961.

Mani und der Manichäismus. 160 p. St. 1961, English Mani and Manichaeism. 1965, Italian 1964; “Der Manichäismus. Kurzgefasste Geschichte der Problemforschung”, Gnosis. Fs. H. Jonas. Göttingen 1978, 278-315.

Die Religionen Irans. 11+393 p. Die Religionen der Menschheit 14. 1965, French 1968.

Establishment of the Sasanian Dynasty. 1971; Iran, der grosse Gegner Roms. 1976; “The Persian Period”, Hayes & Miller, Israelite and Judaean History. L. 1977, 489-538; “Manichaeism and its Iranian Background”, Cambridge History of Iran. Cambr. 1983, 965-990; “Sources of Parthian and Sasanian History”, ibid. 1261-1283.

ed. Der Mandäismus. Wege der Forschung 167. Darmstadt 1982.

– “Leitende Ideen und Quellen der iranischen Apokalyptik”, D. Hellholm, Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East. Tübingen 1983, 77-162.

Apocalyptique iranienne et dualisme qoumranien. Paris 1995.

Tor Andrae. 1947; Literary and psychological Aspects of the Hebrew Prophets. 1948; The Ascension of the Apostle and the Heavenly Book. Uppsala 1950; Sakrales Königtum im alten Testament und im Judentum. Stuttgart 1955; Muhammed, the Apostle of God, and his Ascension. Uppsala 1955; Ryttarfolken från Öster. Stockholm 1960; Muhammed: hans liv och hans tro. Stockholm 1967.

Religionens värld. Stockholm 1945, rev. editions 1953 & 1971, German 1970; Religionens ursprung. 1946, 1963, 1973; Religionsphenomenologie. Berlin 1969, rev. Italian tr. Fenomenologia della religione. 958 p. Bologna 1984; The Gnostic attitude. Santa Barbara 1973.

Sources: J. Duchesne-Guillemin, StIr 25, 1996, 263-272 (with bibliography 1977-88); A. Hultgård, Enc. Iran. online ed. 2017; *H. Ringgren, “Prof. G.W. 60”, Numen 14, 1967, 1-3; Bio-Bibliogr. de 134 savants. 1979, 540-549; Vem är det 1995; photo in Festschrift W. 1972; German and Swedish Wikipedias with photo.

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